Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Tao of electric vehicles

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching)

Myself ad my sweet wife, Grazia, on an all-electric, battery powered motorcycle. No pollution and no noise, and recharging it with my solar panels costs almost nothing. The hell with crude oil!

This post was prompted by something very silly that Bjorn Lomborg said about electric vehicles; something like: "A million electric vehicles would only slow global warming of about one hour." But if a million electric vehicles are not the solution, they would still be doing something good for the climate. And don't forget that to reach one million vehicles you need to start with one. You can see that one in the picture above.

A post in Italian about this motorcycle is here. The light blue thing in the foreground of the picture above is my 1965 Fiat "500" vintage car. Not an electric vehicle, but it could still become one!


  1. There is a real flaw with the position of "Don't change your lightbulbs, change your laws." The point of the law will be to coerce you into changing your lightbulbs, so just go ahead and do it.

    Yes--pick your bandwagon. Local food will not save humanity. But in the future, humanity will be eating locally, so you might as well start.

    This does not mean I think relentless "education" campaigns designed to spur individual action will work. They will not, for the simple reason that there is too much for us to be able to think about it all.

    But, idiocies like Lomberg et al are just silly.

  2. Ugo,
    Didn't they offer a model with a windscreen?
    I hope you don't collect too many bugs in your smile ;-)

    1. Well, if you look carefully, my helmet has a moveable visor. It is there that bugs collect! (max speed, regulated by the electronics, is 65 km/h; so not such a horrible problem, anyway!)

  3. And remember, bugs are local protein, too!

  4. This post somehow has managed to evoke a whole lot of fond old memories in me !

    Almost every summer during my college years I went back to Italy and my auntie who had a Fiat Cinquecento would let me use it (given my driving habits which were something out of American Graffiti, my uncle was wise enough NOT to let me borrow his Lancia) and I went around with it all over Naples which I already knew pretty well and got to know even better as a result, and also up as far as one could go on Vesuvius and to Pompei, Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, Monte Faito, and many other beautiful places of my childhood around Naples when we used to go on family outings first with a Topolino and then with my Dad's new Belvedere. (bought in early 1954 if I remember correctly)

    The TAO of electric vehicles instead reminds me of a dear old college friend of mine (regrettably now deceased well before his time was due) who like me had graduated as a chemical engineer but had a passion for cars because his Dad owned a junk-yard outside Trenton, New Jersey and he had grown up around cars and wrecks and spare parts and automobile repair ever since he was two years old. (it helps)

    He ended up starting his own Porsche repair and restoration business in San Jose, California (he bought old Porsches - mostly 911 S's - which were wrecks and restored them to mint condition and then sold them off. He made a good bit of money doing that and it became a considerable business, but more importantly he was able to do something he truly loved doing.

    And at one point he also wrote and published a very long and amazingly detailed book called "The Zen ART of Porsche Repair" which sold a lot of copies and which Porsche (the real German company) and its engineers were so impressed with, that they then bought the rights to the book from him.

    Regarding motor scooters I have developed a healthy respect (not to call it FEAR) of riding any motorcycle or motor-scooter whether electric or internal combustion (and I will not recall the gory details of the memory that led to that because they are NOT pleasant, suffice it to say that I ended up spending two weeks at the Hopital Cantonal de Geneve with a leg up in the air after a very nasty fall off of a Toyota 750.... but I would LOVE to someday be able to ride around again in an electric Fiat 500 or "Cinquino" !

    And since "it's not over til its over" who knows, I may even get a chance to do that at some point.

    Thanks for the post and sorry for the lengthy and probably also unbelievably boring (to others, though not to me) reminiscing.

    1. I wouldn’t hold your accident against the motorcycle/scooter. Forty-some years ago my wife’s car was T-boned in an intersection. After she recovered she kept on driving (she had to, she was a sales rep). Her walk is still a tad off, and the acccident is the probable cause of the hemi-facial spasm which decades later affected her, distorting her smile and causing her face to twitch (botox helps). But it is a chore to get her to walk a half-mile to church on a beautiful summer Sunday! My nephew was almost killed in «American Grafitti»-style driving ten-some years ago, and yet he still needs a car to go to the bathroom. Two years ago I was in a bicycle accident: I remember nothing between riding past a park and waking up in an emergency ward; the bike frame was beercanned but the wheels were still in great shape. My nephew and my wife want me to stop bicycling, even if I regain my sense of balance. (I tell folks I use my cane only for beating up muggers.)
      Fear is irrational. It is also genetically programmed and beneficial for survival. Risk analysis is rational, not in our genes, and far less compelling.
      A relative who studied in Aix-en-Provence (she still calls it Exxon Province) many years ago was attacked by three young men in a train in northern Italy. Business often takes her to that region (particularly Milano), but she never takes the train. There, or anywhere else. Rationality is the minion and never the master of the human will.
      Your comment is not off-topic.

      David Collins

    2. I should have noted that the comment (and my response) are more toward the topic of Dr Bardi's Frog blog. A rational response to an irrational situation is always problematic!

      David Collins

    3. Hi David, and thank you for saying that my comment was NOT off topic and also for sharing several of your own experiences "along similar or related lines" (also bearing in mind of course that in this world everything is related to everything else)

      Since Ugo brought up the Tao and then I mentioned the Zen (even if only of Porsche repair) and you said that "rationality is the minion and never the master of the human will" let me also add the following very nice quote (that at least I happen to think is very nice and in fact it is also quite well known ) by Nisargadatta Maharaj which is that "the mind is a very good servant but a very poor master" as a result of which when we question her to search for the meaning of life (instead of using her to do such things as "common sense", survival and science) we are quickly netted and captured into the infinite stories that thought invents for us. We can go through our entire life telling ourselves stories (as diverse as it being about "money", "power", "success", "optimism", "pessimism" "cynicism", "doubt", "skepticism" or "enlightenment" itself, that presumably reveal the meaning of life typically forgetting that it had been us to invent them in the first place thereby creating the illusion that they are real. (and the preceding ideas come from yet another expert in Buddhism and not me, though I think I understand them and I agree with them) But in fact this whole line of reasoning ends up questioning the whole notion of "dualism" and of an "I" which is separate from the world and can observe it, study it, analyze it and etc. from an "external vantage point" i.e. of a "subject" which can study an "objective reality" from outside it instead of as one indivisible "dancing" small part of it in the flowing and infinite Presence of the here and now. I very much like Buddhism and I think it has figured out some very important "realities" but I also like "science". Most often I think the two are NOT incompatible. But sometimes I do wonder. But maybe "wondering" is what it's really in fact ultimately all about in either one?

  5. "Have solar panels, can travel"!
    PS Gloves - safety precaution; just in case even when slower than 65 km/h?

  6. You are right. Gloves are a safety precaution - difficult to take, however, in sunny Italy

  7. Yes electric vehicles are know contribute a lot in the worlds traveling.As you time is so fast and technology will get rise day by day.You are true about that point.I like you blog.Nice work done on this.



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014)